Return to Transcripts main page
LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD
Suspects: Alexis Murphy Left with Drug Dealer; Rich on Park Avenue Ripped Off; Judge Judy's Son Sues Sheriff; Sued Over 911 Call.
Aired August 16, 2013 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LISA BLOOM, LEGAL ANALYST, AVVO.COM: The question is whether the forensic evidence and everything we know about this young woman matches up with his story.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: But what about the actual sealing of all of the warrants and all the affidavits and everything else that might give us a clue as to what else has been said or done in this case? Why would they seal something like this?
BLOOM: That's a good question. I don't know what's in there. They don't want the media to know what's in there. I assume it's an open investigation and they're trying to keep some of the facts close to the vest. That's typical while an investigation is going on.
BANFIELD: Does the family have any recourse for those kinds of public comments when his attorney comes out and says this missing girl was actually a conspiring pot dealer?
BLOOM: That's a good question, too, Ashleigh. The things that we attorneys say in public are subject to the defamation laws and he's defaming her saying she's part of a drug deal, because that's an illegal activity. His defense would be truth, that it's a truthful statement. Then they would have to be litigate whether this happened or not. I'm sure this family does not want a civil lawsuit. What they want is to find this young woman and get him criminally prosecuted if he's indeed the perpetrator.
BANFIELD: Defamation may not be least of his worries if he's up on a murder charge that he ends up being convicted of. I think defamation may not be their biggest problem on their legal team.
BANFIELD: It's good to see you again, Lisa Bloom. Thank you so much.
BLOOM: You, too, Ash.
BANFIELD: Lisa Bloom joining us from avvo.com.
So here's one for you. I know you're going to like this story. I'm going to bring you to the home of some of the richest and most powerful and most prestigious people in this country. Inside this fabulous building, they're getting ripped off. I'm not talking a little. I'm talking a lot of jewelry, watches, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, despite all the cameras and security. What is happening at this ritzy address? And how are the robbers getting away with it? The mystery, when we come back.
BANFIELD: Love that song. Welcome back to the "Legal View, everyone." I'm Ashleigh Banfield.
There's a good reason why we're playing that song and showing Manhattan because it is expensive to live there. Now there's a thief in this lovely borough that has some good taste. And I'm talking really good taste. Someone has been stealing really high-end jewelry from the residents of this address, 740 Park Avenue. If you're not familiar with 740 Park Avenue, think of Jackie Onassis, John D. Rockefeller. How about Vera Wang. These are not just the wealthy. They are the gloriously wealthy with remarkable pedigree. They say if you make it here into this co-op, you have finally made it.
CNN's Alina Cho reports on the "Law and Disorder" in this Hollywood- like whodunit.
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This story has hints of the one you see in the film "Tower Heist."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: All these guys keep cash close by.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: Only, this time, the tower is 740 Park Avenue, New York City's most famous white-glove residential building, hit with a series of jewelry heists, four burglaries on four separate occasions in four different apartments while the ritzy residents were away on vacation. Among the items stolen, diamond earrings and necklaces, Rolex and Prada (ph) watched. Total value nearly $250,000. All of the thefts, no signs of forced entry.
MICHAEL GROSS, AUTHOR: What Fort Knox is to gold, 740 Park is to rich guys. If you're that rich, this is where you live. It's a club and it's a really small club because there are only 31 apartments.
CHO: Michael Gross wrote a book on 740 Park Avenue, storied home to the rich and famous. Jackie O. grew up here. John D. Rockefeller once lived here. Today's residents include fashion designer, Vera Wang, and cosmetics heir, Ronald Lauder, and billionaire businessmen, David Koch and Steve Schwartzman.
GROSS: 740 Park means you're there. You're it. And you're rich as Crassus (ph) because the only way you can buy an apartment in this building is if you have $100 million liquid.
CHO: But who could have pulled this off? WALTON SHAW, FORMER CAREER THIEF: I think it's an inside job. If they go back to the security cameras and surveillance they'll realize anybody that doesn't belong there. It's either construction or a new maid that came on or a carpet cleaner. It's somebody inside the building.
BANFIELD: I think there's another Hollywood sequel to this.
Alina Cho, thank you for the report and we'll continue to watch that story and see if they catch the guy or girl.
A little more now on a story we brought you yesterday. Google vigorously responding to claims that they're violating the privacy of their G-mail users when they monitor G-mail accounts to generate things like those targeted ads that are based on e-mail content. Yesterday, we made a comparison to the NSA's monitoring of e-mails, which is not in the lawsuit basically that's been field against Google. We do want to make it clear here. This is not related to the government requests for user data.
But here's Google's statement: "We take our user's privacy and security very seriously. Recent reports claiming otherwise are simply untrue. We have built industry-leading security and privacy features into G-mail. And no matter who sends an e-mail to a G-mail user, those protections apply."
Here's what Google's chief, Eric Schmidt, told our Christine Romans earlier this month when she asked him about the privacy concerns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC SCHMIDT, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, GOOGLE: You have control of the information we have about you. You can also have it deleted. You can also search anonymously. You get to choose not to give us this information. But if you give it to us, we can do a better job of making better services for you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: So the issue all stems about Google being sued in June all over their scanning of e-mails, your e-mails, anybody's e-mails. The company actually uses an algorithm to do that. The company says it's completely automated. It doesn't involve any human review. G-mail is a free service. It has about $400 million users worldwide. We reached out to G-mail and to Google and asked if they wanted to come on and talk about it. And the offer still stands if they want to come on and talk about the full privacy issues.
Coming up, the son of a TV judge is taking a sheriff to court. Not just any TV judge. That one on the right. Our legal panel is going to weigh in on that "Judge Judy" issue, the district attorney's son, and the defamation lawsuit. It's all coming up next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BANFIELD: Welcome back to "Legal View." I'm Ashleigh Banfield.
If you've got legal troubles, especially in family court, you may have no better mom than good old Judge Judy. And Judge Judy is coming to her son's rescue.
Here's CNN's Pam Brown with the story.
JUDY SHEINDLIN, JUDGE JUDY: You think you're smooth. You're a 19- year-old zero.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Judy Sheindlin is the tough-talking gavel-pounding judge you don't want to cross.
SHEINDLIN: Listen to me carefully.
BROWN: Her daytime TV court show "Judge Judy".
SHEINDLIN: You're an idiot!
BROWN: Now she's weighing in on a legal matter involving her own son, Adam Levy, a New York State district attorney who slapped a $5 million lawsuit against Putnam County Sheriff Donald Smith for defamation.
ADAM LEVY, NEW YORK STATE DISTRICT ATTORNEY & JUDGE JUDY'S SON: To read the newspaper, statements made by Don Smith that I interfered with, used my office and my title as district attorney to influence his investigation, I was outraged.
BROWN: Smith has accused Levy of interfering with a child rape case involving Levy's former trainer, Alexander Hossu back in March. According to the Putnam County Sheriff, Hossu was accused of raping a 13-year-old girl on two occasions in 2010. Levy says he recused himself from the rape case as soon as he learned Hossu was under investigation. In this 30-page complaint filed by Levy, he alleged that defamatory statements made by Smith against him were published in various online publications, including, "If he could have his own way, Mr. Hossu would never have been brought to justice, that the lawsuit is politically motivated."
DONALD SMITH, SHERIFF, PUTNAM COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: It's obviously intended to influence the outcome of the upcoming sheriff's election.
BROWN: In a statement, Judge Judy said, about her son, "His moral compass is dead center." She added, "When someone attacks his character professionally or personally, they best be prepared to back it up. Shut up or pay up."
BANFIELD: And that's Judge Judy for you. Thank you to CNN's Pamela Brown.
Back to talk with us about this is criminal defense attorney, Danny Cevallos, and criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor, Jeffrey Gold.
First, I love the fact that Judge Judy is involved in anything because she's just so non-nonsense. But this is a serious case that involves defamation. The ultimate proof of defamation is the truth. Isn't that the fact? You don't need to go on TV and say all these things, you just need to come one the goods, right, Jeff?
JEFF GOLD, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & FORMER PROSECUTOR: Right. The fact is he's saying I wouldn't come out and make a big deal about this if it weren't true. The second is politics. What you wouldn't understand as a citizen normally is the intra-department rivalries that go on between sheriffs and D.A.s investigations. You would think that they would all work together but they don't all work together.
BANFIELD: You were a prosecutor. Didn't you get along with your sheriff?
GOLD: It was always a surprise to young prosecutor how the FBI didn't get along with the ATF, how the local prosecutor's office didn't get along with the local departments. It was rivalry city. And here, on top of this, we have politics. What he's saying is -- the sheriff now -- you're coming out with this now because it's election time and you want to get me.
BANFIELD: Danny, I want to get you in on this but not before we get to hear a little bit more from Prosecutor Levy. That's Judge Judy's son. He was actually on "New Day" on CNN this morning. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEVY: When I learned about this incident, this case, the investigation, it was March 13. I learned about it, and immediately I did what I was legally, morally and ethically required to do. I recused myself and my office. I couldn't possibly prosecute a case against Alex Hossu, who is a family friend.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: There's the paper trail, right, Danny Cevallos? Shouldn't everything play out of accordingly? And, wow, a $5 million defamation case? Do prosecutors really make that much money?
DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: We do, especially in New York. You file for the sun, the moon and the stars. When it comes to defamation, that's the harder part is proving your actual defamation damages. A lot of people say, I've been defamed, can I sue. This answer is you can but you have to prove a tangible economic damage to you, to your reputation, and that takes a lot of money. It's throwing good money after bad. But -- BANFIELD: I wondered does he think he's got a career like his mom. If he thinks he's got a career like his mom and any proof of that, then, yeah, maybe $5 million is low.
CEVALLOS: Sure. The other thing to consider is that the sheriff actually made statements that were published. That's the thing about defamation, when it's published, if you have a record of it, it's usually pretty easy to look at that and say was that defamation. The real issue always with these cases, proving your actually damages.
BANFIELD: Yeah. By the way, publishing -- Jeff, please tell me what publishing is. It isn't about binding it in a book and sending it out. You can publish to one person, can't you?
GOLD: Yes, you absolutely can. I just want to mention one thing. The D.A. has said he's not going to keep any money if he gets it, that he's going to donate all the money to charity.
BANFIELD: Does he have a good case?
GOLD: He does have a good case because it looks like the truth is on his side. It looks like he did nothing wrong. He immediately recused himself.
BANFIELD: Good luck to all those future criminal prosecutions that come between that sheriff and that prosecutor. It's going to be tricky to work together after this.
Thanks you two. If you could stay with us, we have got a couple of other things to bring your way.
Up next, what happens to those millions and millions of teeny, weenie, little shampoo bottles that we leave behind in our hotel room. You'll be surprised about what one person ha been doing in Chicago and this story is fantastic.
BANFIELD: Welcome back to "Legal View." I'm Ashleigh Banfield.
A hotel's trash can become a real treasure, especially to a homeless charity and especially is a "CNN Hero" gets involved. Thanks to one man's ah-ha moment, tons of stuff that would have ended up in a Chicago landfill is helping thousands of people to live better lives.
UNIDENTIFIED HOTEL HOUSEKEEPER: Housekeeping.
JAMI KINNUCAN, CNN HERO: On a day-to-day basis, there's tons of items thrown away. It's shocking to understand how much hotels have in excess.
I was doing a lot of volunteering and I saw how desperate people were for all those types of things. I thought I could be that connection, that matchmaker. My name Jami Kinnucan, and I collect donations around Chicago for charities that don't have the money and manpower to do it on their own.
We get a multitude of different items donated. Whatever charities need, we can get them those items.
I got a full barrel of shampoo and conditioner and lotion for you.
Hygiene is 365. We need hygiene that every single day of the year.
There are a lot of great stuff in here.
We partner with over 40 hotels and we work with dozens of companies.
Oh, fantastic. That's a lot of stuff right there. They're going to love this.
The excess from corporations is great because there's always an overage for a damaged product that is still good.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a double impact here. We're being environmentally responsible and people in Chicago are benefiting from this.
KINNUCAN: How much can you use?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two or three if you've got them
KINNUCAN: Men and women struggling with issues with poverty have as much personal dignity as anyone else. Anything they can do to look good and feel good is important.
It's a simple concept but very labor intensive.
This thing is full. When it's empty give me a call and I'll pick it up and get you another one.
And if I can improve people's lives, it's a double bonus.
BANFIELD: We need your help in finding more inspiring people like this story. Just go to CNNheroes.com and you can nominate someone you know who is making a real difference and needs to be recognized for it.
This next one, you need to know this. If you've ever called 911 or if you ever need to call 911, is it possible you could be liable for what happens thereafter? I'm not kidding. We have a case that will probably surprise you, maybe even outrage you. You want to know how it ends. It's coming up.
BANFIELD: Welcome back to LEGAL VIEW. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. What could be landmark lawsuit has been filed in Harris County, Texas. Some people are worried that if it's successful it could scare people away from calling 911 even in an emergency. A deputy is suing a woman that called 911. He says that she did not adequately warn the first responders when she said her husband was acting irrationally. EMS was the first on the scene but radioed police when the man became violent. The deputy who responded was attacked and was injured pretty badly. And the lawsuit claims the attacker was on drugs.
Joining me is our legal team, attorney and former prosecutor, Jeff Gold, and defense attorney, Danny Cevallos.
First off -- what? Whoa! If you're calling 911, isn't that the only indication there's a crisis.
CEVALLOS: Here's what you need to know. When you're land owner and someone comes on your property for a business purpose like the pizza delivery guy, he's called an invitee. You owe that person the highest degree of care. But there's an exception.
CEVALLOS: You owe a duty to inspect your premises and make them safe. Texas has the firefighter's rule that contemplates if you have an emergency, that's who you're calling and it may not be safe. An exception to this -- and we're seeing a change over time. We're seeing a sea change where we're holding homeowners where they're liable where they did some affirmative act or made the place more dangerous. For example, if I called because someone is having a heart attack but I left out the fact I have a pet grisly bear and the police come and I knew about are that bear and it attacks the police, that's a pretty good reason for holding the firefighter rule inadequate and holding the homeowner liable.
BANFIELD: OK. You're saying there's degrees of what this woman may have done.
There was no grisly bear, Jeff Gold, but there was a man on bath salts and very violent. I think the guy suffered a broken nose, concussions, laceration and bruises, this first responder, this officer. That's pretty serious stuff. All she said is he's irrational. Does that arise to the set of grizzly bear?
GOLD: It's legal mumbo jumbo.
He's doing his duty there. This is outrageous. I think they ought to reconsider whether he's fit to be an officer, if he's not ready to do the things necessary to walk into any situation to make sure that he and his comrades are safe. Ridiculous suit.
BANFIELD: She just said irrational. This was a guy who is super dangerous.
GOLD: Yes. Irrational means he might be super dangerous. This is a cop we're talking about. Ridiculous suit.
BANFIELD: Jeff, how do you really feel?
Hold that thought.
No, I actually do want to feel -- first of all, as a former prosecutor and defense attorney, how can you not feel there's some merit?
GOLD: I feel there's no merit. It's almost unprecedented. What a chilling affect on people to think if they call 911 on their crazy boyfriend or husband, they might get sued.
BANFIELD: If this thing is successful, people will be worried.
BANFIELD: They will be worried if they call 911, they could be bankrupted.
GOLD: It's an emergency line.
CEVALLOS: That's what I'm worried about.
BANFIELD: You guys are good at this.
CEVALLOS: Thank you.
Jeff Gold, very passionate about this.
Danny Cevallos, always good to see you.
Thank you both for being here.
Hey, everybody, thank you for watching. It's been nice to have you with us but that's it for my week. First week on the air. Thanks for being here.
"AROUND THE WORLD" starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)